Photos by Jeppe Hein.

Artist Jeppe Hein’s “modified social benches” are supposed to force you to engage actively with your surroundings; Hein describes them as facilitating an “exchange between the users and the passers-by, thus lending the work a social quality.” Which sounds pretty good, but if you encountered these in the wild, you could be forgiven for thinking that the city was just having a laugh at your expense.

On the other hand, we can’t argue that the people using these benches do seem to be sitting very … actively. There’s no option to just relax and enjoy the scenery or the people-watching, but if your town is ugly, the effort of staying perched might provide a welcome distraction. At the very least, it’s probably good for your back.

You can see more of Hein’s benches, and his other work, in his portfolio. Or you could go to places that his art is exhibited — most recently, a festival in Belgium — but I can’t promise you’d be able to actually sit on the benches. The benches don’t seem to want you to.